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Getting Ready For Spring Break Travel

For Spring Break this year the kids and I are flying to visit my sister and her family in North Carolina.

At least once a day for the last few weeks Anna looks at me and asks "Gabrielle?" (her cousin). When I say "not today" she says, "Mommy's lap?" And then I say, "No, you'll sit in your own seat on the plane."

Since I'll be flying solo with the kids (the legislature is in session so Chris will be working) I'm definitely planning ahead to make the experience as mellow and pain-free as possible.

This past weekend I started making a list of things I want to make sure we take along on this adventure:

1. Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate. We used the Travelmate last summer on our trip to Italy and it was awesome. It connects right to Anna's car seat and basically turns it into a stroller for going through the airport. She's happy and comfortable in her car seat and we'll need it when we get to North Carolina.

2. A backpack for each kid to carry a few special things. Simon will use his school backpack and I found this toddler backpack for Anna. She's already been wearing it around the house pretending she's going to school.

3. LunchBots Duo Stainless Steel Lunch Box/Food Container. I found these at the grocery store yesterday and will be using them to store snacks in each backpack. I'm thinking something like goldfish, dried fruit and gummies. I'll take water bottles for each that can be filled up once we get through security.

4. A new pack of washable crayons, a coloring book, and a blank book for Anna. A new dot to dot for Simon: The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Book in the World, Book 1.

5. A new book or two for each of them and a favorite or two.

6. A new small toy. I'm thinking something like the Playmobil Dad With Stroller for Anna and a small lego set for Simon.

7. Empty ziplock bags. So great for corralling those small toys, snacks, etc.

8. I want to remember to download a couple movies onto my computer before we leave. I'm also wanting to find out if there's a way to connect two sets of headphones to my computer so both kids can listen to the movie.

9. Cameras. Maybe a couple disposables or the Instax. I'd love to invite them to take their own photos along the way.

Any favorite travel tips - especially for traveling with a toddler?

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170 thoughts

  1. dawn says…
    02/28/2011

    I don't have any tips since we've never flown. We have traveled for two days in the car though and I thought ahead like you are. It sounds like you have great ideas already, I always bring some old favorites and then add a few new surprises in their bags. How sweet that Anna is looking forward to going already. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Brian Kasstle says…
    02/28/2011

    I work customer service for an airline.

    Make sure your seats are together BEFORE you leave for your flights.

    Also, NO playdough for the kids on the plane--what A MESS... and yes it happens all the time....

    Weigh your bags before you travel.

    Reply 8 Replies
    1. Krista M says…
      02/28/2011

      I wasn't sitting with my 2 year old daughter when I flew with Delta from Atlanta to Boston UNTIL I mentioned to the people who wouldn't switch seats: ummm....she is potty training...you'll have to take her to the bathroom, or...? Well...that worked like a charm. Just in case you need to use that one.

    2. Roberta says…
      02/28/2011

      wow...how insensitive can people be!

    3. Julie says…
      02/28/2011

      We have been assigned separate seats many times (we are a family of four) and often the airlines refuse to change seat assignments until you get to the airport (we fly American or Delta from NYC to Nashville quite a bit) no matter how many times you call customer service. I much prefer to handle these things ahead of time, but often airline personnel passes the buck to the gate agent who is then forced to strongarm other passengers in person to get them to switch seats.

    4. Marie says…
      02/28/2011

      Believe it or not - I had this happen to me - my son was put in a row ahead of me -- and the people were a little rigid and wouldn't switch seats (b/c it would mean that they...the grown ups...would be separated) He was 4 at the time and handled it like a champ.

    5. Gypsy Chaos says…
      03/01/2011

      Good comments. Of course everyone tries to get seats with their traveling companions. But it's not always possible. And some people truly are rigid. We book the aisles and windows, knowing we'd offer one to the person stuck in the middle seat. Once we had someone choose to seat between two kids instead of moving to the window or aisle seat.

      I had a problem flying on a long flight. On short one, I can handle twisting when the seat back in front of me slams back. On a seven hour flight, I can't tolerate the pain.
      An old man with his adult son were in front of me. The old man reclined his seat while at the jetway; I asked him nicely to put it back up. The son ranted that his father had the right to recline his seat. When he saw that my legs simply did not fit with the seat back, he told me to sit sideways.
      Eventually a flight attendant had someone switch seats with me since the two men were adamant that their ticket meant they could put the seat back. @@ sigh.

    6. Stee says…
      03/01/2011

      Wait, because you have a kid, the other passengers should separate from their companions? They requested seats together and got them. It's not very nice of you to expect them to change their seats to accommodate you. Potty training or not. I like kids a lot but I would not volunteer to sit in a middle seat with strangers instead of next to my own family.

    7. Krista M says…
      03/01/2011

      oh dear....there is always someone getting offended. The point was...we all book ourselves to sit with family, but often the airlines take it upon themselves to overbook or separate families...then they leave it up to the passengers to sort it out. Everyone then just has to make the best of it some way or another.
      I would guess there isn't anyone out there who has never been inconvenienced when travelling by air.

    8. Kerrie says…
      03/24/2011

      I don't think anyone would like or deserves to be separated from their families. But let's be realistic, can a 2 year old Really travel alone???

  3. Julie says…
    02/28/2011

    You can get a splitter for headphones at Best Buy or Radio Shack-then everyone can listen to the movie.

    Reply 5 Replies
    1. J3SS1C4 says…
      02/28/2011

      I think you can get up to 6 way splitters even. In Aust, we have a shop called Smiggle, and I got a cute pink heart shaped one! They should be available at pretty much any electronics place though

    2. Allison says…
      02/28/2011

      Might be called a 'y-plug'. That's what we've always called them in Australia. They should be pretty easy to find. Best Buy/target/Circut City? Have fun and travel safe!

    3. Amanda S. says…
      02/28/2011

      Yep, the ones that split 2 ways are called Y adapters if you're looking for them on google - they work great! :)

    4. Michelle Whitlow says…
      02/28/2011

      yep, we did that for our DVD player on a road trip earlier this year. I think we bought it at Target or Best Buy.

    5. Autumn says…
      02/28/2011

      Kohls has the six way splitter. Looks like a wheel hub of sorts. Totally worth it. You will have an awesome trip and hats off to you for great planning ahead!

  4. Jennifer says…
    02/28/2011

    My sister travels with my niece a lot and uses that same carseat wheeler thing. Last plane they were on was old (it still had ash trays in the armrests!) so the center aisle was narrower. She CARRIED the carseat with my niece in it above her head to make it to their seats. Strong woman! (My niece is 15 months old!)

    She also brings a combination of old+new for familiarity and interest. Also something to suck on (sippy cup of water for now, will move up to lollipops, etc.) for take-off and landing ear-popping. And of course antibacterial wipes for the tray, armrests, etc. Airplanes are dirty!

    Have fun!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Michelle @ Raising Will says…
    02/28/2011

    What a fantastic post! I wish you were my mum when I was growing up :)

    My little one is only 7 months, but I am so very much looking forward to travelling with him when he gets older and I can pack him little goody bags like you've suggested above Ali.

    Hope you and the family have a wonderful trip!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Anni says…
    02/28/2011

    In Germany the headphone things are called Y-Splitter. You can then put both earplugs in one and plug that into your pc.
    You should get that any place you can buy electronics...

    Have a great trip.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Marit says…
    02/28/2011

    My son loves to hear audiobooks of his favourite storys. So you can let one kid hear something on your ipod and the other can watch a movie on your computer, very welcome quiet time.

    When i'm travelling with my son i'm sure to bring a book about the travel medium, for example train or airplane oder ship. especially for anna is this surely interesting.

    Also a great thing we always do when we traveling apart from my husband: writing postcards from underway back home to daddy. My son always enjoys that and looks forward if daddy gets the card.This will be a nice add-on in a scrapbook of this week.

    Enjoy your trip!

    Greetings from germany
    Marit

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Kim says…
    02/28/2011

    No flying tips here, but as a proud North Carolinian let me say WELCOME (in advance) to our state! I hope you have a great visit with your family! You should probably check the extended forecast as its been very up and down lately - 70s one day, 50s the next.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Alida says…
    02/28/2011

    It's great to look forward to a vacation. We recently had a hit with those felt boards that comes with felt people and clothes etc. They're usually in a theme, like pirates etc. Kept my boys busy for quite a while. Wishing you traveling mercies!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. candice says…
    02/28/2011
    Reply 0 Replies
  11. cinnibonbon says…
    02/28/2011

    Oh totally love the idea of you letting them explore their world with their own cameras..How exciting!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Tami says…
    02/28/2011

    maskign tape. they can stick it ALL over their seats, etc and it comes right off. any time of sticker, special tape, etc. it kept my daughter entertains for hours! as for the snacks, I would get them snacks that you don't normally "let" them have, special cookies etc

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Kim E says…
    02/28/2011

    Stickers, stickers and more stickers!!! They entertain my 2 and 6 year olds forever!!! I'm sure you have a bunch of scrapbook stickers laying around that you'll never use, or hit Target!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Amy Dow says…
      03/05/2011

      Good one! Sticker books were GREAT when I traveled with my 2 kids alone. Definitely make sure you have seats together. Also, I found those paint books (like coloring books) with the colored dots on the page so when you took a wet paint brush to them the colors smeared to make a water color picture. I used a tiny bit of water from a water bottle (so if it spilled it didn't matter) and asked the stewardess for an empty cup. I never had a problem and my kids loved it. Have a great time! You seem super organized and patient and that's all you need for a successful trip with 2 kids. When I did it alone I had a 4yo and a 1yo...and from what I remember it went very smoothly!

  14. Cathi O'Neill says…
    02/28/2011

    I travel from Ireland to Bend Oregon every second year to visit my parents and have been travelling with my two kids since babyhood... your list is pretty complete, but for my girls I definitely bring a plastic folder with a good amount of plain paper and depending on their ages, crayons, markers, etc...that keeps them occupied for ages!

    I also buy a little surprise that they don't see at the start of the trip (little game or coloring book, etc...) that I can pull out when they might be needing something new to keep them occupied...

    Have fun on your trip!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. kelly says…
    02/28/2011

    i love seeing this. it made me think back when i was little. i loved getting to go on a trip. then it meant packing up the old car with everything to get to wherever we were going. one year mom and dad gave each one of us kids a beer case, you know the old heavy corrogated cardboard boxes with flap lid. we painted them, decorated them and you saw the thee kids in single file walking up the hotel steps carrying our beer boxes. ilove memory.

    have a great trip. wave as you fly over middle earth.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Ronnie Crowley says…
    02/28/2011

    Radio Shack will sell you a splitter. Having international travelled with kids on my own since youngest was 6 weeks old I've become quite a pro! You look well prepared. One thing I used to bring along with me when they were little were pipe cleaners in lots of colors. You can make lots of things with these and then do imaginative play. Then take them apart and start again. They also don't take up that much room. In England when I was growing we used to have these little books which were called "I-spy" books - they were lists of things you had to see and mark as you say them. They would be easy to make. So you could collect some pictures off google and print several on a small piece of card and get the kids to mark them off when they see things as you travel. Sort of like a bingo game. Maybe a prize when they complete it?

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Alison says…
      02/28/2011

      I was going to mention iSpy books too. Memories from my child-hood but I have not seen them for years (my twins are nearly 2 so a little young at the moment for them). I agree, would be easy to make though.

      Other thoughts... dettol wipes, hand wipes, pens (you could draw finger puppets on your fingers), stickers. Not sure if you have trunki cases/products in the States. They are a huge hit in the UK.

  17. Maureen says…
    02/28/2011

    Have a wonderful trip!

    I can't add much of anything since my days of traveling alone with three were years! ago, in almost a different world and time when airplanes were not crowded, and my crew could sleep on the floor of the plane or on two or three seats. It was a godsend for trips back to the US from SE Asia or the Middle East.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Arlyna says…
    02/28/2011

    I used to wrap the little toys or books for my twins when we travelled... Now, they watch DVDs on a portable DVD player that we bring. We've only gone on short distance trips (Hong Kong) so it has been okay.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Lynn says…
    02/28/2011

    We travel a lot. I go back and forth with my little ones from the UK to New Jersey a few times a year, but must admit that I haven't done it alone since the ratio became 1:4! You sound well prepared, should be a great trip. With my girls (they are 2) it's always vital to have a soother of some sort (at the moment they are into their stuffed bunnies) and that always keeps them happy when they are tired or out of sorts, a sort of reminder from home. Also, toddler cutlery. We travel with a small plastic fork and spoon for the plane, as the ones the adult ones are always too cumbersome. (I actually have a travel set in a little holder that I bring with me to restaurants, too). ;)

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Beth says…
      02/28/2011

      I take one or two cans of play-doh on our flights with our 3 small children (along with lots of the things you have mentioned) and it is always a huge hit! We usually end up sharing it with kids sitting close by too! I also take several gallon size ziploc bags. My oldest usually gets motion sickness and it is much easier for children to use the ziploc bag than the little bags the airline provides. They also work great to put clothes in case of an accident. Have a safe and wonderful trip!

  20. Jennifer Gill from Canada says…
    02/28/2011

    We travel a lot with our kids. My son is 7 and has ADHD and Aspergers. He loves the "I spy" search and find bags (etsy.com) and empty pads for x & o, hangman etc. My daughter is 4 and loves coloring, scavenger hunt games that I make ahead of time for when we are on the plane or in the terminal waiting (exit signs, baby, bathroom signs, Airplane...) also we often take a metal tray (small cookie sheet) and magnets. Sometimes letters and numbers, sometimes a farm scene, or people and clothing. That has been a real hit! Good luck!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Jessica says…
      02/28/2011

      Love the cookie sheet and magnet idea!

  21. Julia says…
    02/28/2011

    We take our son on long haul flights all the time. My suggestions are a plastic grocery bag (one for each way) to hold garbage that accumulates before the crew can get to you, sealed cups like sippie cups, Wipes, and activities for when you can't use electronics. We have really enjoyed the "My Big Book of Stickers" with activity pages, you have to search through the book for the applicable stickers.

    I used to always take my laptop and a DVD player to keep him entertained but now we have an ipad and it's AMAZING. You can download movies, and games, it is much lighter weight and I don't worry about spilling in the keyboard! It really is a great new toy.

    Hope you have a wonderful trip.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Julie says…
      02/28/2011

      @Julia, can you tell me more about taking the ipad on your long haul flights? We are considering doing this for our flight to Australia next week. We have a dvd player with a 12 hour battery and have never had any worries about losing power on our trip (4 hours from Nashville to LAX and another 14 hours to Brisbane). What is the battery life like on the Ipad? We've never watched movies on it before...my husband is going to test it out this week.

      Thanks!

  22. LeAnne says…
    02/28/2011

    Ali
    I've traveled NC to Bend and back numerous times.
    The biggest headache - changing planes 3 times!

    Play doh - the little party sized packs are the best. We made eggs and birds nests for hours with every kid on the plane.

    Go to the dollar store and pick up little things that you can pull out just when their attention starts to waiver. Toss them when you land.
    Have extras for the return trip.

    More playdoh.

    Luckily my daughter slept for most of the longer leg till she was about 5. Then I had to start carrying a portable DVD player since so many airplane movies are rated R.

    We also liked disney books on tape. And the little tiny Pooh sets or princess sets.

    Have fun - NC is beautiful right now with about 75 degrees and the trees starting to bloom.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Ruth says…
    02/28/2011

    Ali, you are so organised!! We did the trip from UK to US last year, I filled a back pack with goodies, some old, some new, some snacks but I wrapped everything up. My munchkin had the best time delving into the bag and tearing the paper off! (just remember to take something to catch the trash!)

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. LeAnne says…
    02/28/2011

    And I forgot - since airlines really don't serve food anymore, make sure to have lots of snacks and pick up water in the terminal. I carried some sort of drink additive to the little one - like propel or something. Also a change of clothes in case of an accident.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. roxane says…
    02/28/2011

    I would suggest some cheese sticks, so you have protein snacks for the long journey. You can use those blue re-freezable ice blocks & the protein will keep their blood sugar more level which eliminates the cranky times.

    My mom called our surprises gifts from The Traveling Angel. If we used our travel manners we got a surprise from the TA when we would come back from the bathroom. You could keep those in your bag.

    Reply 0 Replies

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